I finally finished the roughly 1100 pages of Adam Smith’s Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations last night. This was the capstone book of my reading quest this year. It sort of covers a lot of the themes I have explored in the other 20 or so books I’ve read or listened to since last January. Themes like: sociology, individual human behavior, money, value, taxes, wages, economics, philosophy, history, education, and an overall excellent command of language that is a pleasure to read; to see what is possible with words. Finishing a book of this length is bittersweet since it has been a part of every day for many weeks now. I’ll miss it.
Smith thoroughly covers economic thought and the interactions that adjustments to taxes, wages and commodity prices have on each other. Wealth of Nations was not a detailed policy book, like Keynes’ General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money was. Keynes was more challenging to read since it was like a textbook-type format with detailed methods for economic policy adjustments and application. Wealth of Nations was packed with history, like Marx’s Capitol, Vol. 1 was, but Marx was more negative and confrontational while Smith was factual and thoughtful. Marx had a more developed exploration of commodity values though, which was one of the highlights of his book for me while his gloomy theories of capitalism as the cause of social struggle took away from his book. I stopped at about 600 of 1100 pages of Marx over the summer and switched to fiction for a while. Marx was too negative for me at the time I was reading it, but I may restart it again because it is a great historical book.
Having more time to read has been one of the many highlights of this year of a more autonomous allocation of my time. The books help me see around corners that I couldn’t see before and I can’t wait to jump into the next book, Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments, a light read at just over 200 pages.
I made a book list to help me remember the books this year.